A Tour of the Messines Ridge Part Five – The Kruisstraat Craters

Panorama 2

One of two waterlogged mine craters that still exist at Kruisstraat.  A third crater has long since been filled in.

123007Original message sent on the evening of 6th June 1917, confirming the timing of the attack the following morning.

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From the road you might miss it, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can make out one of the craters in this field.  Mont Kemmel looms above us  away to the west.

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You can get to the other crater up this grass track.

Panorama 3

The three mines here totalled nearly 110,000 lbs of ammonal.  The gallery leading to the third mine, at 2162 feet, was the longest of all the 25 mines laid beneath the German lines from Hill 60 to Ploegsteert Wood.  Which may have been why a Geman camouflet, or counter-mine, was able to damage it, allowing water into the mine chamber.  A fourth, smaller chamber had to be constructed, presumably from a subsidiary gallery, to ensure the detonation of the main mine.

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At the top of the rise to the north west, Lone Tree Cemetery and the bushes surrounding the Pool of Peace are clearly visible…

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…and if we look to the north east we can see the second, larger crater, the one we saw from the road, on the far side of the field.

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Final view of both craters.

Kruistraat Craters Panorama

Evening draws in at Kruisstraat.  The craters are peaceful now.  They provide fine fishing these days, I am told.  They are the final craters we shall see on this tour, but if you ever get the chance to visit any of them, take a long look across the water, close your eyes, and, just for a moment, try to imagine, if you dare, what happened right in front of you nearly 100 years ago.

Our journey down the front line trenches to the west of the Messines Ridge now comes to an end.  The German positions at Messines jutted into the British positions in a salient, and not far south of here the front lines turned to a north west-north eastern traverse beneath the southern tip of the ridge, before continuing in a north-south direction down the eastern edge of Ploegsteert Wood.  We must therefore head east, where two little cemeteries to the south east of Messines tell of the Australians’ participation in the battle.

Next: Bethleem Farm East Cemetery

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